Volunteering in the indiginous village of Yorkin
Trip Start Dec 31, 2006
23Trip End Mar 27, 2007
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Minutes after we began, it started to rain!! Our canoe was made out of a big tree and had some cracks in it that leaked!! The ride took us down one river and up another that bordered on Panama!! The rain was actually refreshing so please don't feel sorry for me!! After one hour of breathtaking scenery, lush green jungle and the clouds hanging on the mountains, we were docking!! Now a 20 minute hike to Yorkin!! Our path was a mud trail through cacoa trees!! We reached our camp and were shown our quarters. A quaint little cabana alongside the river!! Bunk beds and mosquito nets (that is good!!). There were cold showers and flush toilets!! So it wasn't all rough! They used one shower stall to store bags of fermenting cacoa beans, so there was always a peculiar odor!!
The days in Yorkin were truly an adventure!! As my Spanish is quite limited, it was a struggle (but not impossible) to communicate!! One afternoon with a pad of paper and my Spanish dictionary I actually had an intelligent conversation? I truly surprised myself and was quite proud of this accomplishment!! I brought my backpack full of presents for the villagers and the kids!! They called me Santa Clause and the next day it was so cute when the little girls came with ponyo's and clips in their hair and rings all over their fingers!! It was neat to see the sandals on everyone's feet or sitting by their huts! The dominos I broughtone night at the Pub were a great hit and we played MANY games!! The kids especially were hounding me to play and I would catch them cheating and call them little monkeys in Spanish and everyone would laugh!! I taught them to say" How you do'n??" like Joey on Friends!! We finger painted and colored one day!! I painted my face and the kids just howled!! Spent one afternoon teaching some English to the kids and some adults! I would sing them the ABC song and they would ask again and again!
I helped pick cacoa with a family!! Their little girl led me around holding my hand!! She was soooooooo sweet!! The little boys would point and say "aqui", which means here, when there was one to pick and I would lift them up to pick the ones I couldn't reach!! I lost my sunglasses while doing this chore!! These beans are used to make chocolate which we did next!! The beans are roasted in a pan for about an hour, then ground, husks shaken out, then ground one last time to make a creamy liquid called chocolate!! Added sweetened cream finishes it off! The whole process takes a few hours!! I'm bringing some home with me.
Took tours in the jungle to see poison red dart frogs, bull ants, and other creatures!! I came back with rope vine around my neck, a decorated walking stick and our guide made me a head dress, so they called me their chief!
Most of the time while I was out and about, Kyle was back at the camp either in the hammock or having a nap!! They called him "perezoso" or lazy!! He did very little most of the time, but it was nice to have someone to talk to and play cards with in the candle light! I played footsball(soccer) with the kids one afternoon!! We started nice, no kicking the ball while in the mud or water, then 20 minutes later we were in a mud fest, sliding and kicking up mud!! It was so much fun and the kids and I laughed so much!!
Then it was time for a swim in the river with the kids!! They were like fish!!The ladies were also at the river washing clothes and they were'nt using a Maytag!! The river was high because it rained every day we were there!! Sometimes only for a bit, one time for the whole night! The homes there are shacks on individual land, joined by dirt(mud!!)paths. We ate our meals at about 5 different homes, and usually sat on the floor to do so. The homes are very basic and usually quite dirty!
The people are all very friendly and are trying to use tourism to add to their income from banana and cocoa sales!! My last day there was spent in the jungle with two of the young men who were harvesting lumber!! I saw my first and hopefully last scorpion, we cut off his tail with a machetti!! A 90 year old tree was cut with permission! With a big ass chain saw, we cut the tree into 9 foot lengths, and then with a wood guide and level we cut off 3 sides of the bark. With an attachment for the saw, we then sliced off usually (9 - 11) ¾ inch pieces of lumber!! I was quite helpful and the guys called me" ROBERTO FUERTE" which is Robert Strongman!! We rolled the huge logs to get their good side and had to unjam the saw a few times! I think I surprised them as to how helpful I really was!! When we got back to the camp, they were saying "bravo Roberto!! The 50 pieces of lumber we cut that day will be used to build a casa(home) in the village!! What a great feeling!! I'm even choked up as I type this!!
I am so glad I chose this adventure!! Our final descent home was another dugout canoe ride (in the beautiful sunshine) back to the little village we were dropped off at 6 days before!! I gave my rubber boots to one of the guys who I worked with in the jungle cutting wood. His boots were cracked! What a trip!! A truly life altering experience!! The children were precious and made me miss my nieces and nephews immensely!! Would I do it again...In a heart beat!!